BOTKINS — Vincent Bajwa, 17, of Botkins, will sit tonight before a tribunal that will assess his recent Boy Scout project.
That project was no small achievement. It was, in fact, a big achievement — 6 feet by 6 feet by 6 feet, 20,800 pounds big.
To earn his Eagle rank in Troop No. 14 based in Wapakoneta, Bajwa, son of Cathy and Raj Bajwa, established a spirit rock for Botkins Local Schools.
A spirit rock serves as a canvas on which to promote school spirit. Classes, clubs and individuals can paint the rock with congratulatory or promotional messages.
“A lot of colleges have them,” Cathy said.
“I believe it gives us another avenue of expressing the pride we have in our school and in our organizaitons,” said Botkins Local Schools Superintendent Jeff McPheron. “It supports our school community.”
The rock was Vincent’s second idea for an Eagle project that would benefit the school. He had to toss out his first one.
“I wanted to do a gaga ball pit, but the liability wouldn’t let me do it,” he said. Those pits that house the fast-paced dodge ball-type game are accident prone. A brightly painted boulder seemed much safer.
“I hope it will spread school spirit. I really like Botkins (schools),” Vincent said.
After scouring the Internet for project ideas and settling on a spirit rock for his, Vincent went to the Botkins Board of Education to ask permission to give a stone to the school. That was the hardest part of the endeavor, he admitted.
“I put together a PowerPoint (presentation) for the board of education. I was very nervous. I don’t like public speaking,” Vincent said.
Once he had the OK to move ahead, he and Cathy made phone calls first to find a rock and then to have it moved to Botkins. Many Eagle candidates must do a lot of fundraising, but Vincent was blessed to find in-kind donors instead.
The first was Joe Watson, of National Lime and Stone in Lima, who donated the rock.
“A guy picked it out and I never even saw his face,” Vincent said. The scout learned that a 10-ton piece of limestone can’t just be set on the ground. It needs a foundation.
That’s when more than 20 people, including fellow members of his troop, friends and family, showed up one Saturday in June to dig a 9-foot by 9-foot trench, 6 inches deep, on the school grounds.
“But we did 3 inches because the ground was hard as a rock,” Vincent said. He had to supervise the crew.
“They were kids with pick axes!” he said.
Paul Schaub, of Schaub’s Electric in Wapakoneta, hauled away the dirt and delivered the spirit rock, using equipment that Schaub’s Excavating provided for the day.
“When they rounded the corner (with the rock on a flatbed semi), it was, ‘Wow!’” Cathy said. Vincent would have been excited with a stone half that size.
“It’s pretty impressive. It’s huge,” McPheron said.
National Lime and Stone also donated gravel to be used as a base for the boulder. Beem Construction, of Botkins, furnished the crane used to place the rock on the gravel.
After the boulder was in place, Vincent’s parents provided paint, and his siblings helped to spray the rock gold. Then, his sister, Sophia, 10, carefully added words and a banner to one side.
Vincent formally presented the rock to Botkins Superintendent Jeff McPharon, Sept. 1.
“It’s been a long process,” Cathy said. When everyone’s hours were counted, they numbered 111.
“We took doughnuts to everyone to thank them,” Cathy said.
Tonight, Vincent will explain the project and his work in Scouting to a review panel of Scout and community leaders. He fully expects to add the Eagle insignia to his uniform, which already sports those of the Star and Life ranks along with 31 merit badges. That addition will happen during a court of honor, which is still to be scheduled.
“I wanted to try to beat my dad. He achieved First Class rank (which is just below Star),” Vincent said.
During the school’s Grandparents Day, Oct. 13, the rock will be introduced and all Botkins elementary school students will sign it. In the weeks after that, middle and high school students will also autograph it. After that, clubs and individuals can schedule through their school offices if they want to paint the rock.
“I expect it will be painted for homecoming, for FFA week, things like that,” McPheron said. Nonschool organizations can apply to promote their events, too.
“It will have to be approved by our office,” the superintendent said.
As for Vincent, a Botkins High and Upper Valley Career Center senior, he’s extremely grateful for all the help and donations that made his spirit rock idea a reality. And what comes next?
“I’ll try to go to college and learn coding,” he said. “I want to be a game coder.”
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.
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